A mother in North Korea potentially faces jail time for failing to save portraits of the Kim family from a house fire because she saved her two children instead.
The devastating fire happened in Onsong County, North Hamgyong province at a home shared by two families.
North Korean law requires all households to hang portraits of past leaders–Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il, and families are subject to regular inspections to ensure that portraits are readily visible.
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It is a serious offense to fail to display these portraits within a household.
The fires occurred when both families were away from their homes, and both sets of parents ran back to their home when smoke was spotted.
Because of the fire, the Kim Jong-Il portrait was reduced to ash.
If the mother facing charges is found guilty, she will be sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence with hard labor.
During the court proceedings, the mother will be unable to care for her children who suffered burns in the fire and require constant treatment.
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Neighbors have signaled their intent to help the family, but do not wish to become embroiled in a political case, as the consequences could be dire if found guilty of dissident activity.
Moreover, their reputation could be tarnished for their involvement with the family.
A farm laborer who was recently imprisoned for a violent crime was celebrated as a hero for saving the remaining portraits.
A woman who defected from North Korea in 2005, Jun Yoo-Sung, revealed how North Koreans would go to extraordinary lengths to save the portraits of their former dear leaders from natural disasters and fires.
If somebody was martyred in the process of saving a portrait, they would be considered a hero for their courage by the North Korean regime.